Plateosaurus is a prosauropod (early sauropodomorph) dinosaur genus from the Late Triassic, and existed between 214 and 204 million years ago. It was discovered by Johann Friedrich Engelhardt in 1834, at Heroldsberg near Nuremberg, Germany, and scientifically described by Mermann von Meyer in 1837. The meaning of its name is „broad lizard”. The type species was originally P. engelhardti, but it was replaced with P. trossingensis by the ICZN (International Code of Zoological Nomenclature) in 2019, as P. engelhardti was undiagnostic. We know its fossils from North and Central Europe, and from Greenland. Plateosaurus is one of the best known dinosaurs, and up to now more than 100 skeletons have been found, some of them are almost complete. The three most important localities are near Halberstadt in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany; Trossingen in Baden-Württemberg, Germany; and Frick, Switzerland.
Known occurrences of Plateosaurus fossils.
Recently we know three scientifically valid species in the genus: P. trossingensis, P. longiceps, and P. gracilis.
Plateosaurus. Source: By Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com) - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19459004
Description and anatomy
Plateosaurus was a bipedal dinosaur with long neck and small head, strong hind-limbs, short but powerful arms and three-fingered grasping hands with large claws. Plateosaurus was a digitigrad animal – it walked on its toes. It might have used its claws for feeding and defence. Its tail was muscular and had a high mobility. Adults ranged between 4.8 and 10 meters and weighed between 600 and 4000 kilograms , and usually have lived for 12 to 20 years. It had numerous small, leaf-shaped, blunty serrated, and socketed teeth, which was used for crushing plant material. The position of the jaw joint allow to conclude that Plateosaurus might give a very powerful bite. This dinosaur probably had all-around vision, with its eyes directed to the two sides of the animal, allowing it effectively watch for predators. Some fossils have preserved the sclerotic rings, which gave protection for the eyes. According to the newest scientiic evidences, it seems that Plateosaurus was endothermic. Earlier some authors suggested that it might have been bipedal, walking on its hindlimbs, others that it was quadrupedal, or that it was able to switching between these two postures. However, a recent detailed study of the forelimbs that proved that Plateosaurus was unable to pronate its hands, led to the final conclusion of Plateosaurus being an obligate bipedal dinosaur.
Though Plateosaurus was a herbivorous dinosaur, it is likely that it supplemented its diet with small prey animals or carrion, which actually would make them omnivores.
Plateosaurus skeleton. Source: By FunkMonk - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12380131
Plateosaurus skull. Source: By philosophygeek from San Francisco, US - T. Rex HeadUploaded by FunkMonk, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7984803
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